Hillary Lost The Election Because Bill Clinton, Tim Kaine And Barack Obama Are All Free Traders
By Richard McCormack
Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump because she was unable to convince voters in the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin that she was not beholden to the free-trade agenda of corporate and financial "elites."
Voters in those four states repudiated the full-scale embrace of free trade by the past two Democratic presidents, and went for Trump due to his consistency from the beginning to the very end of the campaign regarding claims that unfair trade agreements signed by Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama have destroyed the American economy.
For the first time since 1992 when Ross Perot presciently observed that NAFTA would create a "giant sucking sound" of jobs to Mexico (costing George H.W. Bush his reelection bid), the free-trade cabal of multinational companies, economists, think tanks, retailers and foreign agents has been revoked.
Hillary made a monumental mistake by conjoining herself to Obama, who made passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) his most important legislative priorities over the past two years. Obama never abandoned TPP, even though the electorate in the industrial states was obstreperously opposed to another major trade agreement.
During the entirety of the general election campaign, Obama never backed away from his desire to push TPP through the lame-duck session of Congress, knowing that it could only happen if Hillary was elected. Trump wouldn't stand for it and, now that Trump has been elected, congressional leaders have finally admitted that TPP is officially dead .
The fact that TPP remained alive during the campaign, with the tacit sense of its passage had Hillary been elected, helped doom her prospects for the presidency. She never condemned the potential for TPP's passage during the lame-duck.
In the important swing state of Ohio, which Hillary lost decisively by eight points, Obama campaigned for Hillary on October 14, 2016, in Cleveland. In his 43-minute speech, Obama did not mention the word "trade." He did say that, unlike Trump, Hillary "doesn't talk about how everything is rigged."
But Ohio workers and voters who have lost their jobs and communities to free-trade policies implemented over the past 30 years feel exactly the opposite: that the economy has been rigged against them by the Wall Street and Ivy League elites encamped within both the Democratic and Republican Parties. In the four industrial states that determined the outcome of the election, Hillary was unconvincing in her opposition to free trade. As Secretary of State in 2012, she said in a speech in Australia that TPP "sets the gold standard in trade agreements."
But as presidential candidate, she did not effectively distance herself from that endorsement, using, as Georgetown University scholar on working-class issues John Russo described in a June 26, 2016, article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer "weasel words" in her denunciation of TPP.
Hillary's enervated pledge against passage of TPP became even more spurious when her close friend, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, told Politico that, if elected, Clinton would change her position and help pass TPP "to build a global economy."
It sounded too much like the promises made by Obama during his run for the presidency in 2008. At the time, Obama told the Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition that he was going to renegotiate NAFTA. He never did. He said he would vote against the South Korea Free Trade Agreement. But as president he worked ardently for its passage, promising 70,000 new jobs, when, in fact, the deal led to the loss of at least 95,000 jobs.
Before his 2008 election, Obama stated: "I have not and would not support renewing Trade Promotion Authority." He did the exact opposite, fighting ferociously to get TPA passed in 2015. Obama promised to pursue legislation to eliminate foreign currency manipulation. He never did, in fact, doing the opposite: fighting against passage of the "Schumer" bill in 2010.
When she was in the Senate serving from New York, Hillary refused to sign on to the 2006 Schumer-Graham currency manipulation bill, indicating her partiality for representing the interests of Wall Street over Main Street.
In the important state of Michigan, which Hillary surprisingly lost to Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, Hillary sent her Harvard-educated running mate Tim Kaine to campaign on her behalf on October 18, 2016. But Kaine is a known free-trader. He was one of 13 Democrats in the Senate who voted in favor of granting President Obama Fast-Track Authority on June 23, 2016, and he supported the Trans Pacific Partnership for which he said (prior to being chosen as Hillary's VP) there is "much in it to like."
In his 53-minute speech in Detroit, Kaine avoided the issue of trade, instead telling a passive audience that the way to create jobs was to encourage philanthropies to help fund entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups; raise the minimum wage; double the child-care tax credit; increase Social Security benefits; end discrimination by enforcing fair housing laws; improve the quality of drinking water; double funding for Early Head Start; get rid of mold in classrooms; and reduce expulsions and suspensions in high schools.
Hillary further eroded her credibility on trade when she said on May 15, 2015, in Kentucky that "I'm gonna put my husband in charge of revitalizing the economy."
But it was Bill Clinton and his team of Wall Street appointees and aides who gave the country NAFTA and PNTR with China. During the NAFTA signing ceremony in 2014, Bill Clinton said twice that workers opposing the deal were "wrong." His statement was eerily similar to the one made by President Obama in a meeting of his Export Council describing those opposing TPP as not having "all of the facts." People who drive off the interstates in America's industrial heartland through the towns and into the old industrial cities don't need facts to see the devastation caused by the outsourcing of industry.
Earlier this year, Donald Trump eviscerated the Republican Party over its embrace of free trade. But he left it up to Hillary and Bill Clinton, Tim Kaine, Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee to assemble everything he needed to win the 2016 presidential election.
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